O2 eCommerce site wins award after migration to new platform successfully led by Equal Experts
10 October 2012
Telefonica UK has won the “Re-design/Re-launch of the Year” award at eCommerce Expo 2012 for the new O2 eCommerce platform and the redesign of the Customer Facing Upgrade (CFU) shop. Other people in the shortlist that were beaten are British Gas, nails Inc., Nectar, printed.com and PrivateFly.com.
An Equal Experts team of 30 consultants has been working closely with Telefonica UK for the better part of 2 years, since January 2011, selecting the most appropriate technologies, designing the architecture and building the technical solution from the ground up.
The goal was to migrate the O2 existing online shop to a new technical solution in order to reduce total cost of ownership and improve performance and customer experience.
Traditionally, large enterprise organisations seek to minimise risk by buying COTS packages to meet the needs of their ecommerce trading business. Realising that having an open platform, and not a single vendor package, was key to future success O2 took the bold step of building the entire eCommerce suite from scratch. Instead of spending millions of pounds on software licenses, Equal Experts selected a collective of open source packages and a non-relational database as the foundation for a distributed platform that works as well on a laptop as it does in the cloud. Equal Experts mitigated development risk by using a combination of rigorous test-driven approaches and continuous integration and deployment. The new architecture went live early in Q2 2012 with a completely clean test-exit report and has had numerous small business changes since, requiring no downtime to customers. Conversion rates are higher, the product offerings are richer and customer experience is vastly improved.
As part of building this new platform, Equal Experts delivered a number of technical innovations that added value to the Telefonica business -
Not using a conventional database
After significant research a design was selected that is not centred on a relational database. Instead a ‘nosql’ data-store (MongoDB) has been implemented that has no intrinsic schema definition. This radically reduces time to market for new products (from weeks to days) and dramatically improves response time to customers (seconds to milliseconds). Additionally, with no schema the product catalogue can cater for literally any product, of any type, without no impact to existing code (months of work down to days).
Multi-Channel baked in
Borrowing heavily from the approach taken by companies like Amazon, the shop is completely disconnected from the products and services that drive it. All functionality is wrapped behind a RESTful service. This allows any browsing device (desktop web, mobile device, call centre, retail store kiosk) to be supported with very little development effort by a very small team.
Responsive Customer Experience
The platform services (above) make it trivially easy to build new shopping experiences. To limit proliferation of shops, a combination of Responsive/Adaptive/Mobile First design techniques was pioneered such that one shop application can scale layout, content, customer journey etc to suit everything from a feature phone to a modern tablet.
Since the new shop has been launched, the stability of the platform has been outstanding, most noticeably during iPhone 5 pre-order last month where response times to consumers never exceeded 500ms; probably the busiest trading period of the year.